NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 16, 2006

Have we medicated away romance? Tinkering with brain chemicals through the use of antidepressants can take a toll on romance by blunting emotions and interfering with intense romantic love and long-term attachment, says the Wall Street Journal.

The concern among some researchers is that people taking antidepressants often aren't aware of the emotional and physical side effects and don't know they may influence their thinking about love and marriage, according to the Journal.

  • Antidepressants can diminish the intensity of a person's emotions and reduce the sex drive, components which help sustain feelings of romantic love, says Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, who has conducted brain studies on love.
  • A 2002 report on patients using antidepressants that increase levels of serotonin showed that 80 percent of them reported less ability to cry, worry, become angry or care about others' feelings.

According to Fisher, "These drugs blunt emotions and reduce obsessive-compulsive thinking, but those are also two main characteristics of romantic love."

However, the Journal notes that studying the connection between depression, love, sex and antidepressant treatment is difficult.

John Plewes, a medical adviser to Eli Lilly -- which manufactures Prozac -- says, "Patients who suffer from depression aren't in a position to make decisions about partners and life choices." Plewes added that antidepressants "allow the person to experience normal emotions when they get better from depression." Nearly 123 million prescriptions were written for antidepressants last year.

Source: Tara Parker-Pope, "Where Is the Love? Antidepressants MayInadvertently Blunt Feelings of Romance," Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2006.


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